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Wood Types for Smoking

September 11, 2020 4 min read

Choosing the right kind of wood for your barbecue can be the deciding factor between good barbecue, and awesome barbecue. One of the best things about grilling is choosing the best type of wood to compliment your meat, and using the right kind of wood to enhance the flavor and even appearance of whatever you decide to throw on the grill. 

The variety of woods are seemingly endless, but finding the right wood for the right meat can make your barbecue a cut above the rest. With anambient temp resistance of 572°F/300°C, and an internal temp resistance 212°F/100°C, The MeatStick is highly compatible with all kinds of smoking wood. The MeatStick will let you know once your meat is perfectly cooked via our app

Smoking Wood Types for BBQ

Let's start with the most popular wood types which you can use for your BBQ, and analyze each woods’ special features and which foods they match best with:

  • Hickory
  • Oak
  • Alder
  • Maple
  • Mesquite
  • Pecan
  • Black Walnut
  • Apple
  • Mulberry
  • Cherry 

Although there are dozens more, these are some of the most commonly used woods for grilling.

Burning woods

hickory wood for smoking 

Hickory is the go-to-choice of the American BBQ-scene and is known for its savory, sweet and bacon-like flavor.It pairs beautifully with the following meats:

  • Ribs
  • Pork
  • Red Meat
  • Chicken, Turkey or Goose

Hickory’s popularity and worldwide appeal make it the first choice for all kinds of grilling. 

oak wood for smoking

Oak is a mild smoking wood and is a good choice for everyone who does not like a strong smokey flavor, or for those who plan to grill seafood or fish. Even though it is also perfect for meats like:

  • Lamb
  • Brisket
  • Sausages
  • Pork
  • Fish

As you can see Oak is also very versatile and is ideal for preserving the natural taste of a dish.

apple wood for smoking

Apple wood offers a more fruity and sweet taste, and is a weaker tasting wood. Apple wood requires a bit of extra time in order to really seep into foods and for the foods to really adapt the flavor.

  • Pork butt
  • Ribs
  • Chicken
  • Wildfowl

Apple wood is perfect for Low & Slow sessions, the longer it takes the better it tastes.

mesquite wood for smoking

You want to have Texas Style BBQ? Be sure to have enough mesquite wood in stock. Namely, this is one of the main contributors to a successful Texan BBQ.
It provides a strong, intense flavor and adding a unique note to your foods which should be including :

  • Red meats
  • Ribs
  • Any other strong-flavored meats

Smoking meats with mesquite calls for a decent amount of experience and requires patience so you better get some help from an experienced BBQ-chef.

pecan wood for smoking

Not only are the nuts of this tree awesome, we also really enjoy its wood to grill our meats with! Pecan belongs to the hickory tree family and offers a strong flavor characteristic. Since Pecan burns very slowly, It is best used for longer BBQs like Low & Slow barbecue. Try it for the following meats:

  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Cheese

But be careful since pecan tends to become pungent when used in a high quantity. To prevent that, try mixing pecan along with another type of wood, like Hickory or Oak.

walnut wood for smoking

Next on the list is walnut wood. Black walnut wood is especially known for its very intense, almost bitter taste and is not suitable for everyone’s palate. We recommend you to mix it with other woods and to cook strong tasting meats like:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Wild Game

Definitely avoid using walnut wood for mild-tasting stuff like seafood, fish, or veggies.

alder wood for smoking

Alder is an all-round choice for everyone. It's hard to go wrong by using it for your BBQ. Use it especially if you want to grill milder tasting foods like:
  • White fish
  • Vegetables
  • Chicken
  • Shrimp
  • Fruit
Alder is the perfect wood for home special occasions, and we highly recommend having a staple of alder at home. 

maple wood for smoking

Another sweet-tasting wood on the list and perfect for those who enjoy a maple smoke flavor characteristic. Maple works especially well for the following foods:

  • Pork
  • Poultry
  • Ham
  • Veggies

Maple is renowned for its flavor and is a versatile wood type for all types of BBQs.

mulberry wood for smoking

Try giving mulberry a shot at your next BBQ! Mulberry adds a blackberry-like taste to anything you grill, and is perfect for:

  • Pork
  • Ham
  • Poultry
  • Game birds

Mulberry is very mild but adds a sweet, tangy taste to your BBQ. Highly recommended. 

cherry wood for smoking

Cherry provides a fruity flavor to your BBQ and occasionally adds a beautiful red tint on poultry and pork. Cherry is perfect for:

  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Pork
  • Fish
  • Turkey

Cherry is definitely one of the most delicious and eye-catching woods to work with.

wood chips or chunks for smoking?

Although entirely up to personal preference and availability, wood chips are by far the most commonly used wood to work with due to its wide availability. The downside, however, is that wood chips should be soaked (preferably the night before) in order to be more effective and long-lasting.

Wood chunks on the other hand, do not need to be soaked but are less available. Especially when it comes to more exotic wood types like chestnut, manuka, or olive.

Things you should avoid when smoking with woods

It is important to remember health and safety regulations when dealing with the different kinds of smoking woods to protect not only yourself, but others as well. Also, to avoid unwanted flavors.

These are some important safety tips:
  • Never use woods of whom you don't know where it comes from or what it actually is.
  • Avoid any painted or otherwise chemically treated wood. Those include lumbers and old pallets.
  • Here’s a short list of wood types that should not be used: pine, fir, spruce, redwood (the conifer, not red oak), cedar (other than planking), elm, eucalyptus, sycamore, liquid amber, cypress, elderberry, or sweet gum.
  • There are also wood types which do not offer a good taste which there are: cedar, cypress, elm, elderberry, eucalyptus, fir, pine or spruce.

Overall, the spectrum of BBQ woods is a huge topic and it's almost everything about personal preference. So be creative, try what sounds good to you and experiment with it. Keep in mind to not burn chemically treated wood and avoid certain groups of it.

Sources
http://www.bestsmokerz.com/best-wood-for-smoking-brisket/
https://www.fix.com/blog/smoke-woods-for-grilling/


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